US Open: Nightmare for Danny Willett as he cards worst career round

Danny Willett at the US Open at Erin Hills
Danny Willett at the US Open at Erin Hills
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Danny Willett produced the worst round of his professional career as he endured a horror start to the US Open at Erin Hills.

The Sheffield golfer carded a nine over par 81 – the first time he has scored 80 or more since turning pro in 2008.

It left him an incredible 16 shots off the lead and facing missing the cut in his second successive Major following his disastrous defence of The Masters title in April.

Thursday’s performance was his worst since a final round 79 at the Mercedes Benz Championship in September 2009.

The 30-year-old has endured a largely difficult time since becoming Masters champion 14 months ago, enduring a struggle for form in the intense spotlight which falls on a Major winner.

But there have been few days as difficult for the Hackenthorpe-raised golfer than Thursday in Wisconsin.

Starting his round on the tenth, Willett bogeyed his first hole and added another four bogeys to his card before the end of his front nine.

There was little improvement in the second half of the round, starting with a double bogey on two.

Three further bogeys followed and his round could have been even worse but for a birdie on the last.

Only qualifier Garrett Osborn – currently ranked 1,927th in the world – carded a worse score from the opening round with his 83.

A missed cut seems inevitable for Willett. Had the cut been made on Thursday, he would have needed to be nine shots better off to make it through.

Fellow Sheffield golfer Matt Fitzpatrick had made a solid start to the year’s second Major as The Star went to press.

Also starting on the tenth, the 22-year-old birdied 12 and 14 before handing a shot back on 17.

Fitzpatrick is out at 2.24pm on Friday for his second round with Willett teeing off at 7.58pm.

Rickie Fowler led on -7 after an impressive 65.